EAST ROCKHILL — Less than two months after Pennridge High School senior Madeline Hoffman went into cardiac arrest during marching band practice, she and her family came to the Oct. 26 Pennridge School Board meeting to thank district staff members for their response.
"These individuals immediately stepped up and into action and saved my life," the trombone player in the band said.
Hoffman, who had no pre-existing health condition, said Sept. 14 started like a normal day with school and work, then band practice, where she collapsed.
Mark Hoffman, Madeline's father and executive director of the Bucks County Intermediate Unit, outlined what happened next.
Rebe Williams, the color guard coordinator, called 911 within seconds; Hilary Czaplicki, assistant marching band director and an English teacher at the high school, did CPR for an extended period; Emily Fila, the athletic trainer for the high school field hockey team, used a portable automated external defibrillator to restore the rhythm to Madeline's heart; field hockey coach Becky Spahr and Fila assisted with the CPR; band director Kevin Feher rode in the ambulance with Madeline and met the family at the hospital where he gave them information about what had happened; and Superintendent David Bolton provided on the scene leadership along with in the following days sifting through all the information about what had happened and providing that information to the medical team, Mark Hoffman said.
Madeline was taken by ambulance to Grand View Hospital, then transported by helicopter to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in Philadelphia, where she remained for three-and-a-half weeks, Lisa Hoffman, Madeline's mother and assistant superintendent in the Quakertown Community School District, said.
When the family talked to members of the medical team there, "everyone of them called her recovery miraculous," and said it was thanks to what the school district staff had done, she said.
"Getting help, calling 911, delivering CPR, administering the AED, were fundamental to her survival and her quick, powerful recovery," Lisa Hoffman said. "In a medical crisis like cardiac arrest, seconds matter and we are so grateful to all of you who stepped up in a second to care for Maddie."
Madeline is getting stronger every day and walked with the marching band during its previous week performance, her mother said.
"This past month has demonstrated for those of you who don't know Maddie, and even more so for those of us who do, her strength to face and overcome life's most serious challenges with poise and grace," Lisa Hoffman said.
"You are amazing," she told her daughter.
Along with thanking those who came to Madeline's aid, the family wants to raise awareness of how important CPR and AEDs are, Lisa Hoffman said.
Madeline has joined Youth Heart Watch, which helps provide AEDs for schools, her mother said.
The family is blessed to have had support from the community, Mark Hoffman said.
"We're just so fortunate that we're here to be able to tell you this story and to advocate not only for Madeline but just to share the wonderful things that have happened and to showcase how wonderful the Pennridge School District is when your family is in a moment of need," he said.
Also on hand for the presentation were Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1, and Bucks County Commissioner Bob Harvie.
"God bless you for being special amazing compassionate heroes, and if we could only replicate and clone you all and spread you throughout the community, we'd be in good shape," Fitzpatrick told the six people being honored.
Harvie, a former high school social studies teacher, said people who work in education think of their students as their kids.
"This is one of their kids and they responded," he said.
"Thank you for what you did," he told them.
Harvie presented a proclamation from the Bucks County Commissioners to each of the six and Fitzpatrick presented each with a flag flown over the U. S. Capitol and said their names were entered into the Congressional Record, which will be transmitted to the national archives.